Generic Name: saquinavir, Oral capsule

Invirase

All Brands

  • Invirase
SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for saquinavir

Oral capsule
1

Invirase is used in combination with ritonavir and other human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) drugs to help control HIV infection. It’s never used on its own.

2

The usual adult dose is 1,000 mg taken twice per day. The dose should be taken within 2 hours after eating a meal.

3

Invirase has many possible drug interactions. To avoid problems, make sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the drugs and supplements you take.

4

Invirase can affect your heart, making it beat more slowly or causing you to feel dizzy or lightheaded. Call your doctor right away if you experience these effects.

5

Invirase can increase your blood sugar level. If you have diabetes, you may need to monitor your blood sugar level more often while taking the medication.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

May affect your heart

Invirase alone or taken in combination with certain drugs can affect your heart, making it beat more slowly or causing you to feel dizzy or lightheaded. Call your doctor right away if you experience these effects. You may be more likely to have this side effect if you have heart disease.

May cause pneumonia

Pneumonia has occurred in people taking this drug. See a doctor right away if you experience:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shaking
  • chills
  • chest pain when you breathe
  • shortness of breath

Hemophilia warning

You may be more likely to bleed more from an open wound while taking this drug if you have hemophilia.

Drug Features

Invirase is a prescription drug. It is available in these forms: oral tablet, oral capsule.

Invirase is used as part of a combination therapy. That means you’ll need to take it in combination with other drugs.

Why It's Used

Invirase is used in combination with ritonavir and other antiretroviral drugs to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Invirase doesn’t cure HIV, but it may help to control it.

Invirase is approved to treat HIV infection in people aged 16 years and older.

How It Works

Invirase belongs to a class of drugs called protease inhibitors (PIs). It works by blocking an enzyme called protease, which human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) needs to make copies of itself in your body. By blocking this enzyme, this medication helps to slow the spread of HIV in your body.

SECTION 2 of 4

saquinavir Side Effects

Oral capsule

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with Invirase include:

  • vomiting

  • diarrhea

  • fatigue

  • abdominal pain

  • increased cholesterol levels

Most of these side effects are minor and should disappear in a few weeks. Call your doctor if your side effects don’t go away or are bothersome.

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening, or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • heart rhythm changes: Symptoms include feeling tired or having heartbeats further apart. You may be more likely to have this side effect if you have heart disease or heart rhythm problems.

  • pneumonia: Symptoms include:

    • fever
    • cough
    • shaking
    • chills
    • chest pain when you breathe
    • shortness of breath
  • immune reconstitution syndrome: In this condition, your recovering immune system causes infections you’ve had in the past to return. Examples of past infections include fungal infections, pneumonia, or tuberculosis. Your doctor may need to treat the old infection if this happens. Watch for returning symptoms of your past infections.

  • high blood sugar level or diabetes: Symptoms include:

    • tiredness
    • thirst
    • weight loss
  • worsened liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus infection, or cirrhosis: Signs may include:

    • nausea
    • tiredness
    • yellow skin or eyes
    • stomach swelling
  • fat redistribution: Some people experience a redistribution or accumulation of fat around the stomach or on the back, or a loss of fat in the limbs and face.

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Invirase does not cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 4

saquinavir May Interact with Other Medications

Oral capsule

Invirase can interact with many other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Medications That Might Interact with This Drug

Antibiotics and other drugs to treat infections

Do not take this medication while taking Invirase:

  • rifampin (Rifadin, Rifamate)

The below drugs are sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these drugs before you begin taking Invirase:

  • clarithromycin (Biaxin)
  • erythromycin
  • pentamidine (intravenous drug)

Antidepressants

Do not take this medication while taking Invirase:

  • trazodone (Desyrel)

The below drugs are sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these drugs before you begin taking Invirase:

  • amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • imipramine (Tofranil)

Antiretroviral drugs

These drugs are sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these drugs before you begin taking Invirase:

  • atazanavir (Reyataz)
  • delavirdine (Rescriptor)
  • efavirenz (Sustiva)
  • enfuvirtide (Fuzeon)
  • indinavir (Crixivan)
  • lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra)
  • tipranavir (Aptivus)

Asthma and allergy drugs (inhaled)

These drugs are sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these drugs before you begin taking Invirase:

  • fluticasone (Flonase, Flovent, Veramyst)
  • salmeterol (Serevent)

Blood thinner (anticoagulant)

This drug is sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking this drug before you begin taking Invirase:

  • warfarin (Coumadin)

BPH (enlarged prostate) drug

Do not take this medication while taking Invirase:

  • alfuzosin (Uroxatral)

Cholesterol-lowering drugs

Do not take these medications while taking Invirase:

  • lovastatin (Mevacor)
  • simvastatin (Zocor)

The below drug is sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking this drug before you begin taking Invirase:

  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)

Epilepsy drugs

These drugs are sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these drugs before you begin taking Invirase:

  • carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • phenobarbital
  • phenytoin (Dilantin)

Erectile dysfunction drugs

These drugs are sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these drugs before you begin taking Invirase:

  • sildenafil (Viagra)
  • tadalafil (Cialis)
  • vardenafil (Levitra)

Gout drug

This drug is sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking this drug before you begin taking Invirase:

  • colchicine (Colcrys)

Heart arrhythmia drugs

Do not take these medications while taking Invirase:

  • amiodarone
  • bepridil
  • dofetilide
  • dronedarone (Multaq)
  • flecainide
  • lidocaine (systemic)
  • propafenone
  • quinidine

The below drugs are sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these drugs before you begin taking Invirase:

  • amlodipine (Norvasc)
  • diltiazem (Cardizem)
  • felodipine (Plendil)
  • nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia)
  • nicardipine (Cardene)
  • nimodipine (Nymalize)
  • verapamil (Calan, Verelan, Isoptin)
  • amlodipine (Norvasc)
  • nisoldipine (Sular)
  • isradipine
  • ibutilide
  • sotalol (Betapace)

Herbal supplements

These supplements are sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these before you begin taking Invirase:

  • garlic capsules
  • St. John’s wort

Hormone

This drug is sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking this drug before you begin taking Invirase:

  • ethinyl estradiol

Migraine drugs with ergotamine

Do not take these medications while taking Invirase:

  • dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45, Migranal)
  • ergotamine (Cafergot, Ergomar)
  • methylergonovine

Neuroleptics (used to treat mental health problems)

These drugs are sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these drugs before you begin taking Invirase:

  • clozapine (Clozaril)
  • haloperidol (Haldol)
  • chlorpromazine
  • fluphenazine)
  • perphenazine
  • prochlorperazine (Compazine)
  • thioridazine
  • trifluoperazine
  • ziprasidone (Geodon)

Pain drug

Avoid taking this drug with Invirase. It’s sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking this drug before you begin taking Invirase:

  • methadone

Post-transplant drugs (immunosuppressants)

These drugs are sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these drugs before you begin taking Invirase:

  • cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral)
  • tacrolimus (Prograf)
  • sirolimus (rapamycin)

Sleeping medications

Do not take these medications while taking Invirase:

  • oral midazolam (Versed)
  • triazolam (Halcion)

Avoid combining the below drugs with Invirase. These drugs are sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these drugs before you begin taking Invirase:

  • alprazolam (Xanax)
  • clorazepate (Tranxene-T)
  • diazepam (Valium)
  • flurazepam (Dalmane)
  • midazolam (when given intravenously)

Steroid

This drug is sometimes taken with Invirase, but you may need a dose adjustment. Tell your doctor if you’re taking this drug before you begin taking Invirase:

  • dexamethasone (Decadron)

Tourette syndrome drug

Do not take this medication while taking Invirase:

  • pimozide (Orap)

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with liver disease

If your liver is not able to process the drug quickly enough, the drug level could rise and you could have more serious side effects. If you have mild liver disease, you may be able to take Invirase without a dose change. If you have hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or cirrhosis, your liver disease could worsen while taking this drug. You may need additional monitoring to ensure that the drug is working well for you. You may not be able to take Invirase if you have severe liver disease. Tell your doctor about your liver disease, before taking Invirase.

Pregnant women

Invirase is a pregnancy category B drug. That means two things:

  1. Studies of the drug in pregnant animals have not shown risk to the fetus.
  2. There aren’t enough studies done in pregnant women to show the drug poses a risk to the fetus.

You should take Invirase during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are nursing

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you should not breastfeed if you have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There is a risk of passing HIV to your baby.

Additionally, It isn’t known if this drug passes through breast milk or can have negative affects on your baby.

For Seniors

Seniors are more likely to have reduced kidney, liver, or heart function. This may cause the drug level to rise and create more side effects. Your doctor may monitor you more often for kidney and liver function. They may also check your heart more often in office exams.

SECTION 4 of 4

How to Take saquinavir (Dosage)

Oral capsule

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection

Brand: Invirase

Form: Oral tablet
Strength: 500 mg
Form: Oral capsule
Strength: 200 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18-64 years)

The dose is 1,000 mg, taken twice per day. Each dose of the medication is taken with 100 mg of ritonavir.

Child Dosage (ages 16-17 years)

The dose is 1,000 mg, taken twice per day. Each dose of the medication is taken with 100 mg of ritonavir.

Child Dosage (ages 0-15 years)

This medication is not approved for people under the age of 16 years.

Senior Dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or you may need a different schedule.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Keeping human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection under control requires lifelong treatment. There can be serious health consequences if you don’t take this drug exactly how your doctor tells you.

If You Don’t Take It at All

If you don’t take it at all, your HIV infection will eventually reduce your immunity to a point that your body won’t be able to defend itself against many types of infections. Your body may not be able to fight off infections that are commonly cured in people who don’t have HIV infection.

If You Stop or Miss Doses

If you stop taking this medication, miss doses, or don’t take it on schedule, the amount of medication in your body fluctuates. This can allow the HIV in your body to become resistant to the drug, which means the drug stops working.

If You Don’t Take It on Schedule

Taking your drug at the same time every day keeps a constant amount of the drug in your body. If you don’t take it on schedule, the drug may not be as effective. 

What to Do if You Miss a Dose

In most cases if you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it's just a few hours until your next dose, wait and take your dose at the usual time.

Take just one dose at a time. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in toxic side effects.

How Can I Tell if the Drug Is Working?

To see how well the drug is working, your doctor will check your:

  • symptoms
  • virus count: A virus count measures the number of copies of HIV in your body. A decreased virus count is a sign that your treatment is working.
  • CD4 count: A CD4 count measures the amount of CD4 cells in your body. CD4 cells are white blood cells that fight infection. An increased CD4 count is a sign that your treatment is working.

Invirase is a long-term drug treatment.

Take this drug on schedule for the best possible effect

If you take it at different times on different days, the levels of the drug could increase, and you could have more serious side effects.

This medication is designed to be taken twice per day. Taking it less often could make it less effective.

Invirase tablets are film-coated and can’t be cut or crushed

The capsules also can’t be cut or crushed.

If you have trouble swallowing the capsules, you can make them into an oral suspension. Open the capsules and empty them into an empty cup or glass.  Add 15 mL (one level tablespoon) of sugar syrup or sorbitol syrup (available from some pharmacies) and mix for 30–60 seconds. Be sure to drink the whole amount to get the whole dose.

You could also mix the contents of the capsules with 3 teaspoons of jam and stir the mixture for 30–60 seconds. This mixture should be room temperature when you take it. Be sure to take the whole dose.

Store the capsules and tablets at 77°F (25°C)

You can store them briefly in temperatures as low as 59°F (15°C) and as high as 86°F (30°C). Keep the bottle tightly closed.

Note: Be careful of moist environments, including bathrooms. To keep drugs away from moisture, store them somewhere other than your bathroom and any other damp location.

Monitoring

Before and during your Invirase treatment, your doctor should check your:

  • liver function
  • cholesterol level
  • blood sugar level
  • virus count: A virus count measures the number of copies of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in your blood. A decreased virus count is a sign that your treatment is working.
  • CD4 count: A CD4 cell count measures the number of CD4 cells in your body. CD4 cells are white blood cells that fight infection. An increased CD4 count is a sign that your treatment is working.

Not every pharmacy stocks this drug, so call ahead

If you only need a few tablets or capsules, you should call and ask if your pharmacy dispenses only a small number of tablets or capsules. Some pharmacies can't dispense only part of a bottle.

This drug is often available from specialty pharmacies through your insurance plan. These pharmacies operate like mail order pharmacies and ship the drug to you.

In larger cities, there will often be HIV pharmacies where you can have your prescriptions filled. Ask your doctor if there's an HIV pharmacy in your area.

Insurance

Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for this drug. Your doctor may need to do paperwork for you, which could take a week or two.

What does the pill look like?

Showing - out of 1

Are There Any Alternatives?

There are many drugs and combinations that can treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.


Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with Susan J. Bliss, RPh, MBA

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on April 20, 2015

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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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